After school dismissed for the summer, we packed our bags and headed out for a family vacation. This was the longest road trip our children ever experienced. I prepped their favorite snacks and new activities to ensure calm and happy travels.

As you can imagine, we hit a few bumps in the road as we traveled across the plains on I-70, attempting to entertain our 3-, 4- and 8-year-olds.  With 45 minutes left in the drive, the kids began to get restless, bickering and asking the classic question, “Are we there yet?” Honestly, we were asking ourselves the same question as we counted down the miles on the GPS.

When we were nearing the destination, I told my husband that road trips are unexpectedly sanctifying, revealing character flaws and areas we need the Holy Spirit to refine in us. Exhausted, he agreed.

Not long after, I could see the hotel in the distance. Relieved that the end was in sight, the long trip suddenly felt worth it. We pulled under the hotel awning. While my husband checked us in, I gathered the children’s items. The passage in 1 Pet. 1:6-7 (CSB) came to mind as I unloaded their luggage and carried our young ones to the hotel room:  “You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 

Worn out, I smiled thinking about how this road trip was growing endurance in us and our children, making our young family a little more mature and complete as we strive to look like Jesus, even on the hard, tiresome days.

The next morning, the kids popped out of bed with a pep in their step. Their pleasant and expectant attitudes revealed a deeper, more refined maturity. It wasn’t easy for their little minds and bodies to endure the hours on the road, yet through the journey, they were being developed.

On a different scale, 2018 has been a hard year for many Oklahoma Baptist families.  Great suffering and testing have marked this year as we have navigated the journey of losing loved ones, supporting dear friends battling health issues and others experiencing great physical and spiritual trials. Unexpected occurrences have marred the pages of our calendar. We ask “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

As we focus on our heaven-bound destination, we realize the trials of life are developing endurance. James 1:2-4 (CSB) says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

The times of greatest growth come through trials. Our faith matures as we experience hardships and suffering. Through these days, there is hope and joy as we inch closer to our faith being made complete in Christ, lacking in nothing.

Romans 8 describes how creation anxiously awaits to be set free from bondage and decay through the revelation of Jesus. Just like my children’s thrill of waking up to their vacation destination, I believe we too will arise with a pep in our step as we kneel before the feet of Jesus, being made fully complete in Him.